Triumph Tiger Explorer: Exploration triumph style
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Building on the success of the 800cc Tiger range, the Triumph Tiger Explorer takes the same adventure touring concept and injects a lot more in terms of size, creature comforts, and capacity.
Its centre of mass is a 1215cc inline triple that produces a healthy 102kW and 123Nm at 9300 and 6200rpm respectively.
It’s a gem of an engine, with that characteristic silky smoothness we love about Triumph’s triples, but without the sewing machine-like loud fuel injector noise at idle.
Instead, there’s a low growl as the Tiger sits, waiting to chase its favourite prey — the sunset.
But there is another prey item in the Tiger’s sights, and that is the rest of the large capacity adventure class.
With the rest of Europe offering a similar package, the boffins at Hinckley needed to come up with some decent points of difference to stand out from the Bavarian, Austrian and Italian crowd.
That unique (for now) triple cylinder engine is one of the Tiger’s claws, but much of the rest of the bike’s appeal comes in the form of the electronics it’s packing.
Along with the now-expected ABS and traction control, there’s rider modes and — most importantly during the colder months — heated grips and seats. The seats are generously proportioned, with the pillion not missing out on cushioning and offered plenty of real estate to hold on to with the sturdy-feeling grab handles Triumph has included in the Tiger Explorer’s design.
The electronics are easy to decipher, the controls falling easily to hand and the two-switch navigation from the left handlebar intuitive.
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Flicking through the settings and displays on the two digital read-outs on the dash that flank the centrally mounted tacho revealed plenty about the Tiger’s touring ability.
With multiple trip meters, fuel range, and other read-outs, you can know anything you want by cycling through the easy nav, while keeping your hands on the bars. That’s a must, as, especially at low speeds, the big Tiger needs both hands on the controls.
When it comes to swinging a leg over the adjustable-for-height seat, the Tiger’s size comes into full perspective.
With a dry weight of 257kg, it isn’t a light bike. And that weight does become problematic on loose surfaces, where the high centre of gravity created by the triple cylinder engine and 20-litre fuel tank mean the bike requires some muscles to keep upright.
The 19-inch front wheel looks the part, but you’d have to be brave to take this Tiger off the seal.
Making my way out of the driveway carefully, lest I drop the bike and owe Triumph NZ a pretty penny for damaging the gleaming white paint, I made my way on to the highway, where the Tiger Explorer becomes at home.
The T in Tiger Explorer XRt stands for touring, and out on the rolling plains it effortlessly gobbles up the kilometres.
With the electronically adjustable windscreen set to its highest setting, the cruise control set to bang on the legal limit, and the butt warmer set to full, the Tiger’s considerable weight is shed and a beautifully stable bike steps up.
That stability is thanks in part to electronically adjusted WP suspension that features across the Tiger Explorer range.
Dubbed Triumph Semi Active Suspension (or TSAS) the system links in with the rider modes to provide tailored settings for your ride — or it can be customised to suit your mood.
With five main modes — comfort, road, sport, off-road and a user configurable mode — taking care of the mapping, there are a number of conditions that the three main settings of the TSAS (comfort, normal, and sport) has to deal with.
And you can move the suspension settings to sit in between the three. So, saying you can tailor the suspension to whatever the road is likely to throw at you is an understatement.
The system links in to an IMU that incorporates three gyros and three accelerometers to continuously monitor the bike’s movement and links in with the central chassis unit to combine the bike’s movement with the data from the brakes, speed sensor and the throttle by wire to then adjust the damping to suit.
With an 80km commute, I chucked everything into the comfort mode and glided my way home, arriving unfatigued. That’s exactly what you want from a bike like the Tiger Explorer. Exploration made gloriously comfortable.
Triumph Tiger Explorer
Engine: 1215cc DOHC inline triple cylinder
Pros: Fantastic engine, easy-to-use tech, comfortable, heated seats